Of the many things Johnny Giles taught us, one thing seems appropriate when we think of Manchester United at the moment: even when a football club is well run and the players are all good professionals doing their best, it’s really hard to to win. Without these things you have no prayer.
If United play Liverpool tomorrow night, Liverpool could lose – but it would still be a well-run football club that loses when good professionals do their best. Because winning is really hard.
Losing will merely confirm a state of dysfunction that always seems to reach its peak until somehow something worse happens, to frame Bob Dylan’s chilling words: ‘When you think you’ve lost everything , find out you can always lose a little more.”
So they were beaten 4-0 at Brentford last Saturday and everyone thought that was some kind of low point – until Cristiano Ronaldo was cautioned by the police for dropping the phone of an autistic boy on the ground after the defeat at Everton last April had smashed.
When he “retired” in 2013, Alex Ferguson was working at Harvard Business School and was in high demand in the corporate world as he shared his managerial skills with executives. Little should he know that his empire would eventually collapse at such an astounding rate that that decline in itself would surely preoccupy the brightest minds at Harvard. If they have the courage to do so.
“Culture” is the word they will use in this grim investigation, a “culture” gone so horribly wrong; it can only be compared to the culture of Liverpool in the years of imperial decline. And Ferguson himself must now be seen as part of that cultural disintegration, with his insistence on maintaining a ‘role’ – where he was once the embodiment of United’s devastating tyranny, he now represents their inability to break free from their own illustrious past. If they found a new Alex Ferguson, surely the first thing he would do would be to tell old Alex Ferguson to go home and stay there. And take the aged Ronaldo with him.
But he would also have to do so many other things because the club’s culture has gone so wrong: They even ended up with the wrong kind of billionaire – not the kind that owns actual countries like Saudi Arabia, but the kind that owns a lot Money they don’t necessarily want to spend buying nice things for Manchester United.
The Glazer family “bought” the club using the insanely stupid device (to the club) of “leveraged buyout” – meaning the club generates the money that the billionaire uses to “buy” the club. Of course Liverpool used to have such American owners until they found a better billionaire in John Henry who you could call an ordinary decent billionaire.
But United got stuck with the horrid Glazers and of late a consensus has solidified around the idea that this is at the root of their tragedy – that it’s not just the fault of the players, who are invariably good on arrival and then bad will; or the managers unable to get the most out of £80m (€94m) Harry Maguire; or the social media team adding further shame to every embarrassment; or just the general slump in standards leading to reports of a real rat infestation in the Theater of Dreams.
No, it’s the Glazers who have to go, in the name of God, go. That’s why there was such excitement last week when it was reported that billionaire Jim Ratcliffe might be thinking of stepping in. It was also quite poignant to see United fans who would normally deride Ratcliffe as a Brexiteer who has moved one of his factories from Wales to France and fervently prayed that character would deign to own them.
But here they are – some of them may even have taken solace from old headlines about Ratcliffe’s ‘betrayal of his promise to Wales’, which took it as a good omen. After all, Fergie has often been accused of betraying Wales as Ryan Giggs picked up mysterious injuries that kept him from playing for his country. But this is another story.
Ratcliffe could be the ordinary decent billionaire who will start changing culture – although the point at which he thought Brexit was such a great idea firmly links it to the destruction of at least one fading empire. Will he settle for the elusive double?
Another controversial bigshot, Dave Brailsford, was also mentioned in these hopeful reports – controversial because his huge success with British Cycling is seen by some as a big nothing due to doping stories.
But it was Dave who revealed one of Fergie’s key management strategies — one they’re probably still deconstructing at Harvard — when he asked Fergie the secret to his success: “You gotta get rid of that shit.”
Yes, it will take some time….
Remember, rich white people in America don’t go to jail
Last week in the Trump Crime Section, we found Allen Weisselberg, Chief Financial Officer of the Trump Organization, who pleaded guilty to 15 counts of fraud and tax evasion. He will serve five months in prison, but he will have to testify against the Trump Organization in October – which may not be the same as testifying against Trump himself.
In the broader panorama of Trump’s legal exposure, this appears to be on the same scale as his attorney Michael Cohen’s conviction for felonies related to paying hush money to sex worker Stormy Daniels — in Cohen’s words, “at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.” “.
Before, during and after his tenure as US President, many could not understand what could protect Trump. How could some of his high-ranking agents go to jail but not the man himself?
It doesn’t seem to add up, but with Trump we’re well past the arithmetic at this stage – he represents a larger group of beliefs, which in this case are best expressed like this: Rich white men don’t go to jail.
You can see the fervor of that belief in the mad reactions on MAGA’s page to the FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago, those howls that America is now a “police state” where a rich white man can’t even stay nuclear knows secrets in a box in the basement of his golf club and refuses to give them up without the Feds knocking on his door.
MAGA sees the law as a means of imprisoning millions of black people, which has little or no place in the lives of white people, especially the wealthy.
“But Bernie Madoff…” is the cry. “They put Madoff in prison…”
You’re going to have these anomalies – but then Madoff made the schoolboy mistake of stealing that money mostly from rich white people.
Now that really is breaking the law.
Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day
One of the things you’ve probably noticed about me is that I’m right about everything. Even if I’m wrong, I’m right – like when I was the only one arguing around the world that there would be no Brexit, and it ended up being like a tip for a horse in the Grand National available at a million too one ante post but ends up with a chance for even money and gets slapped around the neck. Technically a defeat, but a triumph of tipster art.
So how confusing it is to see people like Labor leader Mick Lynch who are right about almost everything but wrong about one big thing. Mick supported Brexit. Or Liz Cheney, who is Mick Lynch in reverse, so wrong about almost everything but right about one big thing: her war against Trump.
The ideology blinds them to the full truth. i am here to help
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/old-trafford-faithful-just-want-an-ordinary-decent-billionaire-41925798.html Old Trafford believers just want an ordinary, decent billionaire